How about a no-hitter? (Game Thread)

With two seven inning games already in the books, our dauntless editor asked me to estimate the chances of a no-hitter in a seven inning game.  I can give a first-cut at that, but there are a lot of caveats.

First off, using the Retrosheet database (1921-2019) I can look at all 328,844 starting pitcher performances. I can then see how many had given up no hits conditional on having reached a particular inning. When we do this, we get the following table:


The first interesting thing to notice about this table is that each row is pretty close to half the row above it. The first and fourth innings have some more attrition than that, which is unsurprising since the pitcher is facing the best hitters of the opposition, assuming no more than a few walks or other base runners with no hits.

Note that this table takes no account of multi-pitcher no hitters, nor does it ensure that the pitcher actually finished whatever inning he reached, so if a pitcher is removed with one out in the seventh having not yielded a hit I will still credit them as hitless through 7. It also takes no account of the DH, which clearly reduces the probability of no-hitters.

Finally, there is no adjustment for no-hitter pressure or managerial strategy to break up a no-hitter. Presumably going through the seventh without a hit is somewhat more pressured in a seven inning game than in a nine inning game, though the fact that the 9th is actually more than half the 8th suggests that this effect can’t be very large, since the 9th would, under this theory, be more difficult than the 8th. It doesn’t appear to be.

With those caveats in mind, we see that there are 4.5 times more no-hitters through 7 than through 9. So a no-hitter probability of about 6 per 10,000 nine-inning games rises to 27 per 10,000 seven-inning games.

Finally, just for reference, here are the Braves starting pitchers with seven inning or longer no-hitters. And by the way, Sunday was the anniversary of the Denny Lemaster game I chronicled here:

PitcherDateNo-Hitter Through
Denny Lemaster1966-08-097
Ron Schueler1973-07-068
Phil Niekro1973-08-059
Andy Messersmith1976-06-048
Phil Niekro1976-10-028
Doyle Alexander1980-08-237
Phil Niekro1982-06-027
John Smoltz1990-05-277
Kent Mercker1994-04-089
Greg Maddux1995-05-287
Damian Moss2002-05-037
Mike Hampton2003-06-197
John Smoltz2007-09-077
Julio Teheran2013-06-057
Aaron Harang2014-04-187
Mike Minor2014-08-227
Shelby Miller2015-05-178
Shelby Miller2015-08-167
Mike Foltynewicz2017-06-308
Sean Newcomb2018-07-297

A table of great Braves pitching performances that ends with Folty and Newk just makes you sad. But getting back to the point at hand, he Braves are pretty much in line with the statistics here. They have 2 no-hitters and 20 no-hitters through 7, so they have been ten times more likely to have a no-hitter through 7 innings as one through 9. (Of course, if you throw in the Mercker/Wohlers/Pena no-hitter of 9/11/91, the the ratio drops to 7-1.)

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

29 thoughts on “How about a no-hitter? (Game Thread)”

  1. Transaction of the Day:

    And the lineup:

    This is great utilization by Snitker to get d’Arnaud in the lineup as DH. Ozuna in RF is a bit odd though.

  2. Tonight’s Yankees pitcher, Jordan Montgomery:

    Had a promising rookie season in ’17 (9-7, 3.88 ERA in 155 IP). But got hurt in early ’18, had elbow surgery & missed most of ’19. Now he’s back in the rotation.

    He’s a USC Gamecock & a rather large lefty (6-foot-6) who’s not especially dominating – strikes out less than a guy an inning. He’s more of a sinker/change-up guy. Was good in his 1st start vs. Boston (1 ER in 5.2 IP), got touched up in his 2nd vs Philly (5 ER in 4 IP). Gave up a HR in each.

    Historically, the Yanks like LH pitching & LH power. This club isn’t really about that, but he fits the decades-long template. Hope our upstart pitcher outshines theirs.

  3. Shelby Miller being tied for second in travel-ball rule no-hitters is quite a gem from that research. Now do no-nos over the last seven innings of games!

    (j/k — nice work, Jonathan)

    Also, congrats to my (briefly) childhood home of Buffalo for hosting its first ML game in 135 years. The 1885 Bisons ended the season by losing its final 16 games — may the current iteration break the streak and becalm the spirit of Buttercup Dickerson.

  4. Sobbing.

  5. I’m surprised to only see one Teheran effort here. Thought he did it more than that!

  6. I may be wrong about this but I read somewhere that if a no-no is tossed this year in a seven-inning game, it will not be an official one unless the game goes nine innings. It is odd but that is what I saw.

  7. Don’t look now but Touki actually looked really good in the 4th. He can salvage the rest of the night by just chewing up innings and the stuff is still filthy.

  8. Does Marcell Ozuna have a nickname? Because I want to call him by his nickname!

  9. Remember that one offseason about 11 years ago when Frank Wren signed Derek Lowe, traded for Javy Vazquez, and signed Kawakami out of Japan?

    I’m guessing AA acquires 2-3 major league starters this offseason.

  10. Wow ender, that AB was pathetic.

    Austin Riley now has a better batting line than Camargo or Ender….baby steps

  11. Ozuna just failed terribly, but it’s hard to hate one of the few consistent players on offense.

    Saw two hanging sinkers pass him by, swung at a ball.

  12. This team probably makes the playoffs but — wow — a series is not going to be won with this starting pitching.

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